AFP: US pressed to put wolves back on endangered species list
BBC: Nature's carbon balance confirmed
Reuters: Australia splashes A$13 bln to secure water supplies
Bloomberg: Australia to Spend A$12.9 Billion on Better Water Use (Update1)
BBC: Steel firms warn EU climate fight could hit jobs
Environment News Service: Melting Andean Glaciers Could Leave 30 Million High and Dry
Christian Science Monitor: Potent greenhouse-gas methane has been rising
Environmental News from the UNEP Regions
Other UN News
Environment News from the UN Daily News of 28 April 2008
Environment News from the S.G.’s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 28 April 2008 (none)
UNEP and the Executive Director in the News Canadian Press: UN officials blame market speculation for global food price jump
20 hours ago
GENEVA — UN officials on Monday blamed market speculation for the recent jump in global food prices and called for a concerted effort to ensure the world's poor can afford to feed themselves.
"We have enough food on this planet today to feed everyone," the head of the UN Environment Program, Achim Steiner, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
But, he added, "the way that markets and supplies are currently being influenced by perceptions of future markets is distorting access to that food."
"Real people and real lives are being affected by a dimension that is essentially speculative," said Steiner, noting that millions have found themselves unable to pay for food since prices began to rise steeply at the start of the year.
Last week, the World Food Program asked for an additional US$755 million to fill the hole in its budget caused by rising prices and growing reliance on food aid among the world's poor.
Steiner's comments were echoed by the UN's right-to-food advocate, who said that high food prices were destabilizing the world.
Jean Ziegler told reporters at the UN's European headquarters in Geneva on Monday that the "daily massacre of hunger" was being worsened by private equity companies seeking to profit from price swings on the international commodities markets.
Last week, a U.S. government regulator rejected the idea that speculative trading was the primary culprit behind surging prices of corn, wheat and other crops.
Bart Chilton, a commissioner with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, said commodities markets were functioning properly, and that shrunken harvests, smaller grain inventories and the declining value of the U.S. dollar were the reason for the all-time price highs.
But over the weekend Vietnam moved to curtail speculative buying of rice after consumers were panicked into buying up stocks.
State media quoted Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Sunday as insisting that supplies in Vietnam - the world's second-largest rice exporter after Thailand - were "completely adequate" for domestic consumption. He warned that any organizations and individuals speculating in the commodity would be "severely punished."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called the heads of all the global body's major agencies for a meeting this week in the Swiss capital, Bern, to discuss the food crisis. Other senior figures including World Bank President Robert Zoellick and the director general of the World Trade Organization, Pascal Lamy, are also attending the closed gathering.
Steiner said underlying problems in global food production needed to be addressed.
Governments should resist giving in to panic about short-term price increases, he said, and instead consider medium-and long-term solutions to the problem of feeding a world population already numbering some 6.5 billion and expected to hit nine billion by 2050.
"What we would clearly not welcome is a simple ratcheting up of the production machine without any consideration of the consequences," said Steiner.
The UN Environment Program estimates that 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the world's water consumption goes toward agriculture, yet 40 per cent to 60 per cent of that water never actually reaches the fields.
Likewise, over-reliance on fertilizers boosts production in the short term but depletes the soil in the long run, according to UNEP.
"Sustainable agriculture will cost us a little bit more but will actually allow us to feed a lot more people," said Steiner.
He said market corrections will eventually cause the speculation bubble to burst, but governments should consider the current situation a warning of what might come unless farming and consumption patterns are changed.
"The footprint of a western consumer today on the planet is simply many times that of a person living in a developing country," said Steiner.
"We need to think in medium-to long-term responses, but not forgetting that we have a real situation right now with tens of millions of people essentially being priced out of feeding themselves."
________________________________________________________________________ New Haven Register: Nobel winner urges Yalies to change world
Maria Garriga New Haven Register, Conn.
Source: New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) (KRT) Date: April 28, 2008
Apr. 28--NEW HAVEN -- Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai challenged her audience at the Yale Law School to help change the world, even if they just plant one tree.
Maathai has led the Green Belt Movement, a nonprofit agency in her native Kenya that has planted more than 30 million trees in east Africa, among other wide-ranging work to reverse desertification, a consequence of deforestation.
Much of Kenya has been stripped of its tropical forest by traders seeking valuable hardwoods, such as mahogany, and by plantation owners clearing vast tracts of mature forest to make way for monocultural crops.
Maathai had a fellowship at Yale in 2002 and received the Nobel in 2004, after which Yale awarded her an honorary degree.
The United NationsEnvironment Programme, following her lead, launched the "Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign" in 2007. Yet after reaching the first billion, people became so enthusiastic about continuing that they raised the goal to 2 billion in 2008. "I said why not?" Maathai said.
They have reached 1.9 billion to date. To check on progress, go online to www.unep. org/billiontreecampaign.
"People come to me for solutions. I don't have them, so I just say 'plant a tree.'"
Maathai's story runs far deeper than tree planting: It put her on a collision course with government officials determined to exploit Kenya's natural resources even if it means stripping the land. She has been promoting democracy and human rights ever since.
Maathai has been beaten and jailed several times for promoting democracy and pushing for Kenya to have multi-party elections. In 2002, Kenyans elected Maathai to parliament after years of resistance to an oppressive regime.
Upon announcing that it had awarded Maathai its 2004 Peace Prize, the Nobel Peace Center issued a press release that said "Peace on Earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment. Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa."
Maathai said the Nobel committee has moved beyond calling attention to conflict mediators to focusing on those who prevent conflicts before they erupt. The conflicts usually break out over the distribution of natural resources, such as land, forests and water.
"If we want to live in peace, we have to preempt the causes of conflict," Maathai said firmly.
Maathai believes long-term change, that which arises from the people of a country, can be most effectively achieved through education.
The international media took notice of Maathai again recently when she announced she would not carry the Olympic torch through Kenya's capital April 13 for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Maathai has said China could intervene for human rights in Tibet, Darfur, Burma and Kenya, but has not.
The daughter of farmers, Maathai became the first woman in eastern and central Africa to earn a doctorate in 1971.
Now a professor of veterinary science at the University of Nairobi, she joined a women's group in 1974 and learned while she battled sexism at the university, other women were more concerned with basic needs such as access to food, money and clean water. Since property could only be registered to men, women had a hard time getting money to support their families.
Maathai reasoned trees could provide warmth with wood, money with sales, food with fruit, and heal lands depleted by excessive logging, massive commercial plantations, along with serious erosion.
"I found her inspiring," said Claudia Octavian, 30, of Mexico. Octavian, a student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, said her country faces many of the same issues.
"I'm thinking about going into government, into the Ministry of Environment, to work on these issues."
Kemunto Mokaya, 26, of Nairobi, Kenya, a third-year student at Yale School of Medicine, said she supported Maathai's emphasis on using education to reach students at younger ages.
"It's the same problem with health. People learn about health when they are old. We need to change things from the education side and teach them when they are young."